Sacrifice to Love
Just when it feels like brainless rock/rap hybrid acts and even stupider boy bands have taken over the global youth culture, it's nice to be reminded that there are some places on earth even the highest-powered marketing strategies can't reach. Case in point: Rizwan and Muazzam Mujahid Ali Khan, two 19-year-old brothers who lead their own group of Pakistani Qawwali singers. Their grandfather was an uncle of late Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, so you know going in that talent flows deeply within their bloodlines. And as Qawwali warblers, they've got the stuff—their multipitched, hypnotic singing lulls you into the same trance they seemed to be in when they were laying this down (with just four songs on Sacrifice to Love—more like excursions than songs, really—it's hard not to be soothed into passivity). But remember, Rizwan and Muazzam are rambunctious teens who want to shake up the past, which is why the album sounds livelier, harder and more energetic than a lot of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's later work. Punk-rock Qawwali? Maybe—it begins with a series of loud, rhythmic handclaps that feel like a spiritual face slapping, which may as well be an obnoxious, cobweb-blowing Fender riff. It's also one of the best dance-music albums of the year, if you let it take over; "Free your mind and your ass will follow" never rang truer than it does here. Okay, so it's also pretty good 3 a.m. bong-toking music, too, but that would be too obvious—the sound of all those voices blending, the harmoniums whinnying and the tablas burping is quite enough to get you high. Add in the fact that all of their lyrics (sung in Sufi) are praises to Allah, and you instantly know how they could cull such an inspired disc—for Sacrifice to Love isn't really music as much as it is the sound of storming heaven.